Trained shoulder development muscles, how to do it, alternatives, benefits and more (2023)

Related Blackridge Guides:seated anterior deltoid,Anterior deltoid raise with plate,clean and press

The best barbell shoulder exercises for...

The best barbell shoulder exercises for all fitness levels

Quick links: go to what interests you:

  1. Shoulder muscles worked
  2. How to do a shoulder press
  3. How to Do the Standing Barbell Press
  4. How to do the Standing Shoulder Press
  5. How to do the Seated Shoulder Press
  6. Still can't do OHP?
  7. alternative exercises
  8. Secret Technique: Maximize Growth
  9. additional resources

Guide: The Key to Building Lean Muscle Mass

The shoulder press is a great exercise to build your shoulder muscles and strength, as well as improve your overall upper body shape. Strong, muscular shoulders can go a long way in creating an impressive physique.

In this article, we'll look at which muscles are involved in the bench press, how to do different bench press variations, sets and reps, alternative exercises, and an interesting trick to maximize performance.

Did the shoulder muscles work?

In general, when performing overhead press variations, you will primarily use the delts to complete the exercise. However, the variation you choose will determine the degree to which different muscles are involved and the overall stimulus applied to the body.

Below is a list of the main muscles used to perform the exercise.

deltoids (deltoids)

The deltoids are a group of small, thick, triangular muscles that sit over the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint and give the shoulder its rounded shape. The three muscles (anterior, lateral, posterior)Act to move your arms in different ways.

The anterior deltoid is responsible for generating most of the force needed for overhead pushing.


1)the anterior (front) deltoidrotates the shoulder and creates a forward bend, which may also be called a forward arm swing. In the context of a shoulder press, this muscle is used to lift the arms above the head.

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2)the lateral (medial) deltoidmoves the shoulder joint outward (sideways) from the body, also known as shoulder abduction. It is more active in the dumbbell press because the shoulder is more open to the side than the front of the body.

3)the posterior (posterior) deltoidoften referred to as the "posterior deltoid", it is responsible for shoulder extension and backward and outward movement of the arm. This pulls the arm and shoulder behind the body, allowing the posterior deltoid to be more active during pulling movements.


The triceps is the large muscle at the back of the upper arm and consists of three heads (medial, lateral and long), all of which are used when bench pressing.
Function:This muscle extends the elbow joint and also serves to stabilize the shoulder joint when sustained power generation is required.

Trained shoulder development muscles, how to do it, alternatives, benefits and more (1)

Upper Chest (Pectoralis Major)

From Latin 'BreastsMeaning'Murmure'.The pectorals make up most of the chest's volume, particularly the pectoralis major, the fan-shaped muscle located at the front of the chest. There is a small pectoral muscle that sits under the big one and is much smaller.
Function:The pectoralis major creates both the adduction of the arm (which brings the arm closer to the body) and the flexion of the arm through the clavicular head that occurs during shoulder thrusting movements. while the pectoralis minor stabilizes the shoulder against the ribs and internally rotates the shoulder

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Fallen (Trapeze)

The trapezius is a large, broad, shallow muscle that runs from the top of the neck to the middle of the back.
Function:Traps are active in functional pulling and pushing tasks, but also provide postural support. They can often be very dominant in shoulder movement exercises and can stabilize or counteract body alignment.

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Trained shoulder development muscles, how to do it, alternatives, benefits and more (3)

Related Blackridge Guides:seated anterior deltoid,Anterior deltoid raise with plate,clean and press

How to do a shoulder press

Whether you decide to do the barbell shoulder press, dumbbell shoulder press, or the seated or standing exercise, understanding proper movement and technique is important for building muscle and avoiding injury.

These are the three movements that occur in every bench press movement.

1). shoulder flexion

This movement is governed mainly by theanterior deltoidsand is supported by the clavicular head of thechest mayorraise your arms above your head.

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two). elbow extension

Followed by an elbow turn using all three heads of theTripleto straighten the arm when pushed above the head.

3). superior rotation of the scapula

Finally, rotation of the scapula (shoulder blade) is integratedsuperior trapsto rotate the scapula to form a base of support to keep the barbell overhead.

These three movements are done simultaneously to bring the weight up and hit the shoulder muscles hard.

Listed below are the top three shoulder exercises to incorporate into your workout for optimal shoulder growth.

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How to do the "Barbell Overhead Press".

Also known as the "Military Press", the Overhead Press (OHP) is our latest and most advanced variant. Similar to the other shoulder exercises, the OHP works the delts, but this exercise places more emphasis specifically on the anterior delts.

This is because the elbows are positioned further in front of the body than out to the sides, such as when performing dumbbell variations.

The overhead/military press requires you to pay more attention to the finer details, such as hand and elbow positions and spinal alignment during the press.

For this reason, the Military Press/Army Press is considered a more advanced exercise as it requires greater mobility in the shoulder joint in order for you to perform the exercise safely and effectively.

Follow these steps below to hone your technique and bring your shoulders to their fullest potential.

Choose bar weight and height

In general, you should load the barbell with a heavy to moderate weight for 5 to 10 repetitions. Barbell Setup: You want the frame to be underarm height.

How to do it: starting position

  1. Stand near the bar on the shelf.
  2. position your footprintluzwider than shoulder width.
  3. You want to move your elbows under the bar while slightly bending your knees and hips.
  4. Stand, remove the bar and take 3 steps back
  5. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and point your elbows slightly away from your shoulders.

How: the rep

  1. Position your elbows at a 45 degree angle with the middle between them pointing straight out to the side (cactus) or directly in front of you.
  2. With the bar in your hands near your collarbone, flex and contract your glutes to ensure the rotation remains neutral.
  3. push the bar upNOup and forward or up and back
  4. To keep the trajectory of the bar straight, you need to slightly tilt your head back when starting the development.
  5. When cleaning your face, push your head forward to a neutral position.

Squeeze your glutes and strengthen your core.

Flexing your hips activates your glutes, which puts less stress on your spine, allowing you to lift the weight with more control and consistency throughout the set. It is important to keep this pelvis "tight" during the exercise to preserve the involved adhesives.

Do you feel shoulder pain when lifting?

Here is a helpful article from Men's Healththat goes into the subject.

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Variations of Dumbbell Shoulder Presses:

Other variations such as "standing" or "sitting" dumbbell shoulder presses are reasonable alternatives, as incorporating dumbbells helps prevent muscle imbalances and further challenges the muscle, increasing the size and strength of your shoulders. .

How to do the Standing Shoulder Press

Much like the OHP, the standing shoulder press requires you to squeeze your glutes to keep your spine neutral. However, when doing standing dumbbell bench presses, you may hold the dumbbells more to the side, which puts more stress on the lateral delts.

In fact,this studiosuggests that applying instability to shoulder development while standing with dumbbells results in greater deltoid activation.

When you do this standing shoulder press exercise, thelateral deltoidsGet more active, and as a result, you'll gain more strength and overall shoulder size.

Additionally, the standing dumbbell press eliminates the risk of the barbell hitting your face during the rep, which is another added benefit.

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select the weight

You can't lift as much with the standing dumbbell shoulder press as with the "sitting dumbbell press", so I recommend reducing the weight by 10-15%.

Core and lower body stability

With all standing push movements, it's important to keep your core tight and your glutes tight, and this is no different. Make sure you feel your glutes contract during this exercise. If you feel that your lower back hurts, chances are your glutes are not engaged.

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How to do the Seated Shoulder Press

The Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press allows for heavier loads because when you use a back brace as a bench to stabilize your back, you rely less on your smaller stabilizer muscles.

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select the weight

Choose a weight that will allow you to achieve the desired reps and sets in your program. With proper selection, the weight should feel light at first, but suddenly become very heavy just after the middle of the set.

bench mount

First, make sure the bench you choose is adjustable so you can sit almost upright. You should hold the dumbbells directly over your shoulders, with your palms facing forward and your elbows lined up at your sides and bent at 90 degrees.

Keep the shoulder blades back and down

Keeping your shoulder blades back and down and without leaning back or rounding your spine, reach your elbows to press the dumbbells overhead, then bring the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Tension in the feet, spine and trunk

Finally, try pushing slightly forward with your feet, this will help keep your pelvis on the bench to find more stability. Have a slight arch in your spine and maintain core tension throughout the set.

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Still can't do military press/military press?

You should start with the "Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press" and when you feel comfortable with this movement, move on to the standing variation, focusing on glute tightness and shoulder stabilization.

Start with just the weight of the barbell. Most olympic barbells weigh 45lbs, some of you might think you can only do 5 reps at first with that weight, that's fine. Rome was not built in a day.

Shoulder press reps and sets

Try loading this exercise into the low to medium rep range. This means your goal is to lift a weight that feels heavy but not impossible.

for hypertrophy

3-4 sets of 8-12 reps (90% effort) with 60-90 seconds rest -Since you can do more than 10 reps for 4 sets,increase loadto make the exercise difficult.

for strength

3 sets of 6-8 reps or 5 sets of 5 reps (90% effort) with 2-3 minutes rest in between –5×5 is a great way to quickly build OHP strength, and you'll find that you can keep adding weight with this loading pattern.

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alternative exercises

check out our othersanterior deltoidrelated guides:seated anterior deltoid,Anterior deltoid raise with plate,clean and press

Cable shoulder pressUsing a shoulder press machine

Trained shoulder development muscles, how to do it, alternatives, benefits and more (6)
(Video) The Benefits of Gymnastic Ring Training

Shoulder press is another great way to work the anterior/anterior deltoids. Like the cable shoulder press, the shoulder press does a lot of stabilization work, which has its pros and cons. Less machine stabilization means the supporting muscles have to work harder, making the movement more functional. However, you can use a shoulder press to really isolate your anterior delts. Be sure to incorporate free weight exercises into your routine to increase shoulder stability and prevent injury.

Arnolds Presse

Arnold Press traces its origins to the great man who needs no introduction. The main benefit of the Arnold press is that it does a slightly better job of incorporating a variety of delt activations compared to other shoulder presses such as dumbbell shoulder presses or military presses.

Watch the video to ensure you are perfecting form to maximize gains and minimize risk of injury.

Die Landmine-Presse

The land mine press is a happy medium between the stability needed for a free weight exercise and a machine exercise. Also, it's a little different and very functional since you stand on it.

Please watch the video to understand the movement and make sure you are doing it correctly.


If you really want to build shoulder strength and want a challenge, try pike pushups. This exercise is great for developing strong, resilient shoulders.

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CAUTION: This is a very difficult exercise and puts a lot of strain on the shoulder. This exercise requires that you already have a good level of strength and control in your shoulders.

Trained shoulder development muscles, how to do it, alternatives, benefits and more (7)

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Secret shoulder press technique to maximize growth

Before your rep, take a deep breath into your abdomen to tighten your core, and exhale as you lower the weight. A tighter core helps stabilize the torso throughout the movement, allowing you to further isolate the delts and load them with more weight instead of wasting energy on stabilization.

additional resources


What are the benefits of training shoulders? ›

Shoulder or scapular strength exercises can promote healthy movement patterns and improve posture and muscle function. Doing these exercises on a regular basis can help to treat and prevent injuries and allow you to move with greater ease and strength.

How long does it take to develop good shoulders? ›

Make Delts Your Training Priority

In this workout—as in other "blueprint" workouts I've created—I've set 10 weeks as the amount of time you'll need to see some noticeable gains in your shoulders. During these 10 weeks, you'll work shoulders twice a week and every other muscle group once.

What muscles make your shoulders bigger? ›

Delts. Your delts are the star of the show when it comes to building out your shoulder width. Particularly your mid delts are what you want to focus on if you're trying to broaden your shoulders.

What is the importance of shoulder muscles? ›

Your shoulder muscles support and stabilize the most flexible joint in your body. They help you perform a wide range of movements, from brushing your hair to throwing a ball. Since we use our shoulder muscles so much, they're prone to injuries.

Do your shoulders get wider as you grow? ›

Boys - As you go through puberty, you'll get taller, your shoulders will get broader, and as your muscles get bigger your weight will increase. Girls - As you go through puberty, you'll get taller, your hips will get wider, and your waist will get smaller.

Are shoulders hard to build? ›

But shoulders are also a tricky joint that requires extra-special attention. The shoulder is a multifaceted junction where power and vulnerability live close to each other. You can make big strides or big mistakes in shoulder training, simply by altering your exercises by a few inches.


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